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Volume 20 No. 42
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Spotlight: John Ruzich, SVP and general counsel, Legends

Legends brings lawyer back to sports from entertainment

Hospitality and sales and marketing firm Legends recently hired John Ruzich as senior vice president and general counsel. Ruzich joins the company after serving as senior vice president of business and legal affairs/general counsel for DreamWorks Classics. Ruzich began his legal career as a staff attorney for the New Jersey Devils and has spent time at World Wrestling Entertainment as associate counsel. He spoke with SportsBusiness Journal staff writer Anna Hrushka.

Age: 38.
New title: Senior vice president and general counsel, Legends.
Previous title: Senior vice president of business and legal affairs/general counsel at DreamWorks Classics.
First job: Stock boy at 7-Eleven.
Education: B.S., communications, University of Miami (1996); St. Thomas University School of Law (1999).
Resides: Fort Lee, N.J.
Grew up: Pearl River, N.Y.
Executive most admired: Lou Lamoriello, New Jersey Devils.
Brand most admired: Apple. “Coming out of the bad hurricane here, the Apple devices were ones that allowed me to stay in touch with the real world and be able to continue to do work without having electricity.”
Favorite vacation spot: Napa Valley, Calif.
Last book read: “When Pride Still Mattered: A Life of Vince Lombardi,” by David Maraniss.
Last movie seen: Anniversary screening of “Raiders of the Lost Ark.”
Favorite movie: “Miracle.”
Favorite musician/band: Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band.

What will be the biggest challenge in your new position?
Whenever you start working for a new organization there’s an inherent learning curve — just trying to understand what’s going on. And then the second piece is, this organization, what really made it attractive to me is it has a lot of very interesting opportunities and unbelievable room to grow. They have the foundation with the Yankees and the Cowboys and other venues and entities that they work with.

What is your biggest professional accomplishment?
Being part of the 2000 Stanley Cup championship team with the Devils. Lou Lamoriello was the first person who gave me the opportunity to be a sports lawyer, and I was fortunate enough to be a part of that team and enjoy that experience.

What is your biggest professional disappointment?
Over the years I was very fortunate to have some opportunities presented to me to join some organizations that eventually went on to win a championship. Like anyone else, you always second-guess yourself about the opportunities that you missed.

What is the biggest risk you've taken in your career?
When I transitioned to entertainment for several years. Although it’s a very similar business model, it was a departure from my comfort zone in sports.

What career advice do you have for people wanting into the sports industry?
I think some people misuse the term “networking,” which seems to be a self-interested way of getting things from others. I think it’s about building genuine relationships and actually focusing on helping others more. People in this industry see through fakeness, and I think if you have meaningful relationships you’ll have meaningful bonds with people and they’ll help you accomplish everything you want in your career.

What is the one element you would like to see changed about the sports industry?
I really would prefer if the fans focused less on the economics of the game such as player salaries and salary caps and more on the actual games and experience. Just thinking back to my childhood I remember going to games and worrying about statistics of home runs and RBIs or touchdowns and not what one person’s cap hit is or whether a certain team is over the luxury tax threshold.